Introduction: Poor Man's Fret Job

Picture of Poor Man's Fret Job

In this instructable I will attempt to give a down and dirty process for re-fretting a guitar and filling in the gouges on the fret board.

DISCLAIMER: I take no responsibility for damage to your instrument. The name of the game here is 'carefully' and 'gently.' Please take these steps slowly and deliberately. Make sure to read through the whole thing before starting this project.

I was pleased with the outcome even on my first try.... this was my second. I decided to do this because I capo so much that my frets themselves became dented. I also had terrible gouges in the fretboard itself from years of playing. These fretboard gouges do not affect the playability of the guitar, they are just ugly. My first refretting attempt was on a guitar that was already unplayable, so if I messed it up it didn't matter. Happily, it worked fine and I now have an old friend back!

You can obtain fret wire in many different sizes and radius online or at your local guitar repair shop. I made the switch to stainless steel fret wire instead of nickle. Stainless steel is much harder and less likely to wear down and get dents. I used this website. Good luck.

Step 1: Remove the Frets

Picture of Remove the Frets

First we need to take the old frets out. Take off you strings and lets get moving.

I used a soldering iron to heat the metal fret. This melts the glue in the fret slot and starts to let the fret go. Some guitars will have glue... some won't. But if there is glue you will notice it starting to bubble up from under the fret. Try not to let it get hot enough to burn your fret board.

Take a pocket knife, or something similar to gently pry the fret from the board. This is fairly easy to do... just go slowly. If you remove the fret to quickly without enough heating, the fretboard will chip. A little bit of chipping is normal... but try to keep it to a minimum. Really though, go slowly. Take your time. You love your instrument don't you?

Remember: The frets will be hot from the soldering iron so have pliers on hand to grab the removed fret. Place hot fret in a bowl of water or something so it can cool before you dispose of it.

Once completed I used a very light sand paper to remove some dirt & crud left over from pulling the frets.

Step 2: Clean Fret Slots

Picture of Clean Fret Slots

Sorry about the fuzzy picture. This is a small razor knife that I used to gently clean out the fret slots. You will probably need to clean the slots out with the razor or some canned air a few times during this project due to sanding dust. Do this at your discretion.

Step 3: Preparing the Gouges

Picture of Preparing the Gouges

Now to the invasive stuff.

Take a razor and make a series of slices into the fret board gouges you want to fill. Make fairly deep cuts and a whole bunch of slices right next to each other. Cut the entire length of each gouge.

This looks scary to do to a beloved instrument but it will really help get ride of those unsightly gouges.

Step 4: Preparing the Gouges Part Two

Picture of Preparing the Gouges Part Two

Take your razor and 'lift' the cuts you just made into the gouges. The idea here is to raise the splinters, without breaking them off (although you will break a couple), to create a web of wood fibers. I tried to raise the splinters to the level of the fretboard. Again, go carefully and slowly.

Step 5: Preparing the Rosewood

Picture of Preparing the Rosewood

Next you need some rosewood (or ebony if your fretboard is ebony) I bought a couple rosewood pen blanks from a local craft store. (It was a mom & pop shop not a chain. I don't think you can find exotic wood pen blanks at a chain store.... plus 'ol mom & pop had to order these for me.) I bet you can find some rosewood pen blanks and order them for yourself online somewhere.

Okay, So I have my rosewood. I took my favorite rotary tool and sanded off some rosewood to make rosewood dust. I captured the dust on a piece of paper as I sanded. You'll need a small pile. But a little does go a long way. One of these pen blanks should last 50 fret gouge jobs.

NOTE: Rosewood is TOXIC!!! Be sure to use a dust mask while working with rosewood. It smells nice, but don't be fooled. People do have allergic reactions to rosewood. So put on your mask! Its also a good idea to put on eye protection while sanding.

Step 6: Pack the Dust

Picture of Pack the Dust

Now we want to pack the rosewood dust into the webbing of splinters in what used to be the gouges.

So take your piece of paper with the dust on it and gently tap some dust onto your fret board.

Pack the dust down into the gouges using a closed pocket knife, like I did, or something similar. get as much in as you can. Pack it as tightly as you can.

When you are done it should look like the third picture in this step.

Step 7: Glue Dust

Picture of Glue Dust

Now we are going to glue the dust into the gouge. This is basically creating a resin filler for the slot.

First off, use a thin cyanoacylate glue (super glue). Here is the type I used. SUPER GLUEThis is some heavy duty stuff. Watch your fingers. Put your mask back on! Put on eye protection!

So, drip the glue into the packed dust. The glue will wick down through the dust and the splinters and create the perfect filler for the gouges. As the glue reacts with the dust it might smoke! Don't be alarmed. This type of glue generates heat. Again, watch your fingers, eyes and nose.

Let the glue fully cure. I just let it sit overnight.

Step 8: Sand Sand Sand

Picture of Sand Sand Sand

I used a spongy sanding block to sand the glued spots down; the type of sanding blocks you'd use for drywall. I used 3 very light grits. So this step takes a long time. Take your time and get the glued areas down nice and flush with the original fretboard. Fret boards are slightly curved so when you sand you do not want to flatten your fretboard. Just try to get the glue nice and even.

When this is done the gouges might be a slightly different color than your original fretboard... but hey the fretboard with be like new again. You can get a lighter color rosewood than your board and then when you apply the glue it might match better. Anyway, the 2nd and 3rd picture in the step make the fillings look much darker than they really are. In person, you have to look closely to see where I filled my frets.

When the sanding is complete, I take a wet cloth and wipe the dust off. Then I take a soft cotton cloth and use it to rub some mineral oil into the entire fret board. I might do this a couple times to let the oil seep into the wood. When complete it should look like pic #2 & #3 in this step.

now to start the re-fretting....

Step 9: Cutting the Fret Wire

Picture of Cutting the Fret Wire

Okay, so you have your fret wire and you're ready to go. Just in case; You can obtain fret wire in many different sizes and radius online or at your local guitar repair shop. I used this website.

I simply laid the wire across the fret slot to be fretted and cut with my nippers right at the edge. You need to cut and shape these wires one at a time because each fret slot is slightly smaller (or bigger depending on which end you start), then the one before. So cut the wire, then proceed to the next couple steps, the come back to this step for the next fret. Get it?

Cut carefully, you only have so much fret wire. Make sure you've estimated correctly! This picture was the easiest way I found.

Step 10: Grinding the Fret Tang

Picture of Grinding the Fret Tang

Again, sorry for the fuzzy pics.

Once the fret is cut to size then I slap it into a vice and take out my favorite rotary tool. I used a grinding bit that is rated for metal.

I grind down the tang of the fret to about 3/16 inch in from each end. This leaves room for the fret end to come to the edge of the neck binding while still allowing the tang to go down into the slot.

I also ground the end of the fret just to nip off the sharp edge. See pic #2.This is optional but it might help you not cut yourself before you shape the frets in a later step.

It should look like pic #3 when complete.

Step 11: Fret! Don't Fret.

Picture of Fret! Don't Fret.

Now take the prepared fret and gently lay it into the slot. Adjust where it sits side to side. Then tap the fret into the slot with a mallet. This might take a couple of firm taps, but don't tap too hard or you might bend or dent your fret.

I did not use glue on mine. The frets fit nice and tight on their own. If yours don't, you can drizzle a small amount of glue down into the slot. Take care not to get the glue on your fretboard. You can use masking tape to protect your fretboard around your slot.

Now go back to step 9 and repeat until you are completely fretted. then move onto step 12.

Step 12: Shaping the Frets

Picture of Shaping the Frets

I take out the rotary tool again and use a cut off wheel. using the flat side of the wheel I try to slowly grind the fret flush with the binding. GO VERY SLOWLY! Also work on multiple frets at a time. This will help you avoid getting the fret too hot and melting the binding under the fret. (I did this multiple times) So work on about 4 frets at once. Grind a little on one, then move to the next and so on. Do this until the fret is flush with the binding. I also boogered up the binding a little with my cut off wheel from slips once in a while. But this does not affect the playability of the instrument. If you do ding up the binding a bit, use a small file or emery board to smooth it out a bit.

Note: if you burn under your fret, use caulking or some other type of filler to fill the small gap. Again, I did this a few times but It did not hurt the playability. Maybe you can come up with a better method for this, like hand filing the frets.

Now, you need to put a bevel on the ends of the frets. Again I use the cut off wheel. Most fret bevels are 30 degrees. Many people who re-fret their own instruments over-bevel (I did on my first instrument on two frets.. I was able to pull them out and put a couple new frets in very quickly.... fixed the problem just fine).

So, as you bevel, go slow, work on a 3 or 4 frets at a time to avoid over heating and don't over-bevel.

Now I change the cut off wheel to a sanding disk (pic 2). This will take off small burrs and help to shape and round the fret ends a little more.

Check with you fingers for any sharp parts of the fret. You you find them, carefully sand them blunt.

After the sanding it should look similar to pic #3.

Now I pop off the sanding disc and use a polishing cloth bit and polishing compound (usually comes with the rotary tool). I did not get a picture of this. I have one more guitar to work on, so I will get a picture when I get to polishing those frets. Anyway, with the cloth rotary tool bit and the compound, polish each fret. Pay special attention to the fret ends where you did most of your grinding and sanding so take out and more burrs and polish up.

Step 13: Finishing

Picture of Finishing

Here is my finished re-fretted instrument.

I usually clean up the fretboard... and the rest of the guitar at this point. I might rub in some more mineral oil into the fret board again.

Also double check under the frets in case you burned the binding. Use a caulking to fill the small gaps and then clean the surrounding areas.

Also, sometimes the polishing compound leaves residue. Nail polish remover and a cotton swab takes care of this nicely.

Now re-string the thing and get playing! I usually check the instrument and listen for buzzes. If you get a buzz, either your action is not correct or one of the frets is raised up a bit. If it's the action... that's another instructable. If its a raised fret, you can take the strings back off and tap it down better or make a new fret for that position. If this doesn't work you'll need to file your frets. You can get fret files and fret crowing files online at many websites.

I must say though that my instruments worked out just great and sound fantastic. The filled fretboard gouges are like they never existed! The frets came out nice and level. I even checked them with a straight edge and they were fine. Also this is a 'poor man's' instructable and fretting tools are expensive. So I boogered up my binding a bit and maybe burned unto the fret wire a bit, but I fixed these issues cheaply, effectively and easily.

So Good luck and let me know if you have any other ideas that are cheap and don't require specialized tools or equipment!

Thanks for reading.


sbandyk (author)2014-03-03

This part is pretty scary. You were obviously very careful here.. because your guitar wasn't broken in the next step. I wouldn't recommend that other people take this chance though.

A little bit of the fretboard just past the edge of the body will be supported by the tenon part of the neck joint. The rest is only supported by the rather flimsy top of the guitar. Just the thought of hammering frets into this section makes me edgy.

Alternate idea..

In the past, I've made my own Fret press caul and it worked very well. I used a scrap piece of recycled porch decking material [mostly plastic]. I sanded a radius into the face of the material* and used a clamp to push the caul into the fret.. and the fret in turn into the neck.

  1. reach into sound hole to look for bracing.
  2. cut a block of wood or similar material to place inside the sound hole under the unsupported portion of the fretboard. As needed, route a channel[s] into block to clear any bracing or the like.
  3. place your prepared frets into the slots.. you can do more than one at a time.
  4. insert the block from #2 under the fretboard [inside guitar].
  5. rest the caul on top of the frets and hold in place with a C-clamp or the like
  6. Carefully apply pressure until the caul presses the frets into the slots.

Consider.. the more frets you do at once, the more pressure required and the more likely you are to crush the soundboard [top of the guitar body]. Work slow.. don't get greedy by trying to press in tight fret wire all at once.

The caul also works well for other parts of the neck.. especially for bolt-on necks. You always want to have plenty of support on the neck though so make another caul to cup the back of the neck. Once you have the top and bottom cauls.. you can use a clamp to press the frets in.. or you can sometimes even get away with using a press instead [a beefy drill press will even work].

* there are lots of ways to put a radius into the face of your caul. I suggest first roughly removing material with a sander or rasp. Then, place coarse sand paper over the fret board and use the radius of the un-fretted fretboard to shape the face of the caul to the same radius [rub the caul on the paper/fretboard.. you're using the fretboard as a sanding block essentially].

eyouel (author)2014-05-23

Nice one man

potatojesus (author)eyouel2014-06-19

thanks. the frets are still working really great years after I shared this.

sbandyk (author)2014-03-03

I like the final affect of your patch. Replacing the gouges with the filler leaves the same pattern but it's got a burned [dirty] look to it.. which is sort of cool.

For other readers.. there's no requirement to fill worn spots in the fretboard unless they're under the fret wire. They're the result of someone with long finger nails playing the guitar for years. It's a lot of work and you want to be careful when sanding that you don't change the curve of the fretboard or it's trueness end to end.

I've got a '64 Gibson estate sale find with this problem.. It's tempting to go this route but I'll probably keep the wear and just give it a quick sand with a radiuses block to make sure it's true.

BTW.. the other way to repair fretboard damage is to chisel or route out the damaged portion and then glue in a replacement piece of wood. Again.. lots of work.. and delicate. If you try this.. be careful. Of course.. one last thing you can do to fix damage on a fretboard.. convince yourself what it really needs is Mother of Pearl* block inlays. :-)

*for different reasons, MoP is also dangerous stuff to work with. Instead of chemically irritant sawdust like rosewood, you'll get a highly abrasive dust. Wear a good mask if you work with it.

sbandyk (author)sbandyk2014-03-03

P.S. The recommendation to oil the board is a good one. You should clean and oil non-sealed fretboards when you change your strings too. Wood has natural oils in it.. rosewood in particular is rather oily. Replacing that oil as it wears and degrades will protect the wood from shrinking, cracking, or chipping.

Another popular choice for fretboards is Lemon Oil.. which you can buy in applicators for guitars [Dunlop sells it for about 5 bucks for 4 oz.] or in the cleaning product isle [used on furniture as well]. Buying it from Johnson and Johnson instead of Dunlop has the advantage of it costing about 1/10th as much per volume.

One nice thing about lemon oil.. it smells like lemon oil. :-)

sbandyk (author)2014-03-03

..a tip I picked up somewhere..

Take a scrap piece of 2x4 and drill a grid of holes an inch deep into a wide face of the board. Label the holes 1, 2, 3.. to the number of frets you have.

As you cut your frets to length, place them in the corresponding hole of your scrap block to keep them straight from each other.

sbandyk (author)2014-03-03

I'd avoid using anything as a "caulking" under the fret edges. If they don't seat flush to the fretboard, it's because the fret slots aren't deep enough.. because there's debris in the slots, or because the frets aren't seated fully.

If you think you'll have issues with fret depth, and it's more likely when re-fretting a bound fretboard.. especially when you've leveled [sanded] the fretboard.. you can make a dummy fret to test depth.

Take one length of fret wire, bent to the radius of your fretboard [not over-radiused like your frets should be]. Take your dremel and carefully grind off the barbs that protrude from the fret tang [the back of the fret that goes into the slot]. What you want is a fret where the tang is flat so you can insert it and remove it from the fret slots with little pressure and no damage to the board.

Drop that in all the slots before you start fretting and confirm that the top of the fret sits flat against the fretboard.

Note.. some fret wire has a twist pressed into the tang to make it wider.. do your best to level the tang side until you can push it end and remove it from slots easily. You can try flattening this with pliers or press but be careful to avoid twisting the fret wire or lengthening the depth of the tang.

sbandyk (author)2014-03-03

yea.. this is probably not a best idea. It's way too easy to get carried away with the Dremel.

A better way to get a consistent file on the fret edges is to run a block of wood through your table saw with the blade set to a 30 degree angle. Better yet high-density polymer [HDPE] if you have a block of that.. I use an old drilled block of HDPE which formerly held dowels for test tube storage.

What you'll get, hopefully, is a block with a diagonal cut into one one side that doesn't remove any material.. you're slicing into it, not lopping the edge off or bisecting it. Set the depth to [spoiler alert] about half the width of a flat file.

Now.. grab a fine-pattern flat file and slide it into the slot. What you should have now is a block with half of a file sticking out the bottom.. 30 degrees off of perpendicular to the face of the block.

Set the block on the frets so the file extends down and away from the edge of the fretboard and run it down the fret ends until they're all filed to a uniform and appropriate length.


  1. for a set-neck like the acoustic here.. set the file deep into the block so you can run it over the frets that sit on top of the body. I do this for bolt on electrics and I leave the file about half buried in the block so it's easier to remove/replace.
  2. Lop off the end of the file if it's made with a handle.. if you want to. You'll be less likely to damage the guitar if there isn't a pointy metal handle sticking out one edge. Remember though, tools like files are made of tool steel.. hard to cut. "cut" really means "grind off" or "grind through" in this case.
  3. In my case, my thin kerf table saw blade just happens to be thick enough to slide the file in and out of the slot but thin enough grab my file well. you may need to shim or open the slot as required by your saw and your file.
Hazzard2theworld911 (author)2012-06-22

I've known people who have used coffee grinds in place of the wood shavings... smells nice!

Alternatively, you could use any other type of hardwood, especially the coloured ones [ i like purple heart] or use stone instead of wood, just to add colour. Don't do that to an instrument that you LOVE, obviously, I've done it to my "beater" guitars and it's worked out fine!

Ibanezfoo (author)2011-08-05

You can get this wood at any Rockler or Woodcraft store or their websites...

joelsprayberry (author)2011-05-09

job well done, i plan on doing this soon. ordered some fretwire from stewmac.
hope to take my time~
nice post~

mayan guitarist (author)2009-04-29

Im trying to make my guitar fretless. Should I fill the fret slots with some thing or just let it fly?

I know this is roughly two years late :p
But in regards to making a fretless guitar. The fret slots MUST be filled, or the neck will upbow severely.
I have done this, on a guitar and a bass, and I recommend using vynil sheeting. This was recommended to me by Los Angeles luthier John Carruthers.
I also used transparent self-adhesive mylar (also recommended by carruthers) to cover the fretboard surface. It results in a slick Jaco-like playing surface without the expense and effort of actually applying boat-deck lacquer to the fretboard :)

That's something I wouldn't really profess to know about... but you could try the rosewood dust technique in this instructable and then sand properly. But I really don't know.

Okay ill try that. Its not that nice of a neck so i dont care if it dosent work, but thanks anyway.

when you make a fretless guitar you'll need an ebony fretboard its the only wood that will work

JArmandB (author)2010-03-07

Instead of potentially damaging the binding or possibly starting a fire (the plastic used for binding is especially flammable), use your end nippers to cut the frets flush with the fingerboard.  Apply downward pressure as you cut so you don't lift the fret end.  Then use small needle files to dress the fret ends.  This is no place for power tools.  Otherwise, up to now, you are spot on.

potatojesus (author)JArmandB2010-03-08

You are certainly correct. The Dremmel was a form of laziness on my part. However, by my third guitar refretting project, I had a slow and controlled enough hand that it came out very nice. It was a matter of touch. I do need to add the proper files to my tool collection though. Thanks for your comment!!!

curt-fullmer (author)2010-01-03

Great instructable just what i was looking for, specialty tools are very expensive and when you ask luthiers how to do this you never get any info. Just a snide "You're not capable" kind of attitude. I'm gonna use this on a junker neck i did a partial scallop on, thanks man

potatojesus (author)curt-fullmer2010-01-04

That's exactly what I did. I practiced on two junkers before I did my better guitars. Good luck and go slowly & carefully.

m4573rk3yb04rd (author)2009-06-25

instead of this, i used the air compression can(as u said) and then some wood polish and it came out beautiful...... i would post pictures but i dont have a camera : (

Yeah, cool. I never thought of compressed air. Great idea!

valhallas_end (author)2009-02-05

This is a great Instructable, well planned and detailed. I've rebuilt two electric guitars and a bass, but never tried an acoustic - I'm far more careful with my 1969 Giannini model 2/A (before they changed their glue and pumped out inferior guitars) but may have to fill minor gouges on the neck and headstock. I'm not interested in selling, and all repair jobs I've seen instructions for have flashy re-coloration and recreation techniques. It's nice to see a straight job to fix a guitar for the sake of the instrument, not sales value. Have you ever worked on repairing body gouges (skin too thin to open with a blade) or varnish flaking?

Thanks for the comment. Yes, this is certainly not for resale of the instrument! But as I mentioned in the instructable, the gouge filler in person is far less noticeable. My camera just picked up the filler as much darker for some reason. Also, the shallower the gouge, the better the final filled spot will blend. Both the instruments I've worked on so far have sentimental value to me so I would never fix 'em up and sell 'em! The one in this instructable is a 'Concorde.' This is a guitar that nobody has ever heard of. But it was a mid-70's middle of the road Japanese made guitar that my uncle bought for my grandfather. The workmanship on this instrument is surprisingly well done. The edge purfing and sole hole purfing is real abalone inlay. I inherited this instrument when my grandfather passed. The frets and fret board was already in bad shape from years of playing. I've always used it as a back up guitar. I'm glad I brought it back to life! As for your other question, no I haven't worked on anything like that. I have finished a guitar before... but never refinished. I worked with lacquer... which is a giant pain to work with. My job was less than stellar. I've also finished a guitar with gun stock oil. This stuff is really easy to work with and works great. You don't get a glass finish, but instead you get a rubbed oil finish... it's really beautiful. Gun Stock oil will rub in like oil but the harden... unlike a mineral oil or something. But maybe you can lightly sand the flaking or thin areas and use a rubbing oil (gun stock oil works well). This won't fix it visiually, but it should help protect the wood. You might need to repeat this once in a while.

Thanks potato. I may try the gun oil idea (I'm a rifle target shooter and have litres of the stuff lying around) - it may actually match the varnish look fairly well too, since the crackling around the flaked area has darkened nearly to the color of the binding wood, and these are small enough spots to be nearly unnoticeable except under close inspection. I've always wanted to try my hand at constructing an acoustic from the ground up, but can't tolerate most varnishes (slightly allergic to many of the resin compounds), so oil may be a great alternative. Do you periodically need to reapply the oil to keep a good finish, or is it more of a once-over with maintenance?

Valhallas- It may be wise to post such a question at a site such as Harmony-Central's forums, they're much wiser to working with vintage varnishes than most here. That being said, if it's flaking, I think it's lacquer, which, as you know, is alcohol based. You could test swab alcohol somewhere, say, under a tuner to check for softening. While potato said he has had poor luck with lacquer, I find it to be the 2nd most forgiving, next to shellac. Nitrocellulose lacquer dissolves into the lacquer under it, making it very easy to blend and fix blemishes (unlike polyurethane and other catalyzed finishes). That being said, the gun oil is a great idea for bare wood. I'm currently using tung oil to finish off an acoustic I'm building for a buddy of mine. Danish oil works alright as well. Cheers.

Thanks guitar. I actually took the Giannini to the local shop where it was originally bought (it's been passed down through my family), and he actually mentioned nitro as a good fixative. My only problem is I'd have to have it worked in a shop - I worked with nitro to finish a table a few years ago and had a horrible asthmatic reaction to the vapors, even with an excellent filter mask. I have access to a better workshop now though and may try it out sometime. Thanks for the tip, and btw I like your metal pickguard - I'm building a new electric and might try it depending on my body color choice.

gun stock oil... not gun barrel oil... just to be sure. I use tru-oil.

I believe you might need to reapply every few years. But I have a guitar I finished with it a few years ago and it still looks good. make sure you add a few coats of the stuff, steel wooling in between coats, to get a nice lustery finish! good luck.

mrjibbs (author)2009-03-26

Destruction is the mother of invention/no guitar should ever see a landfill ! I had a les paul which an insane brother of mine smashed in a fit of rage. Insane brother had a gretsch which he later gave the same treatment. Being that I am left handed I have ben the DR Freakenstein of amature luthier world since dy one. When I finish my latest endevour I hope to unveil.....Gretsch Paul. Lefty Les Paul Body with Gretsch neck al chet atkins. Hopefuly this will be more than the sum of its parts, hopefully it would make les and chet chuckle at least. Hopefully it will enable me to take over the World.........back to reality. Hopefully it'll play, lol. I love this topic and this site , it RAWKS Just thought I would share.

guitarman63mm (author)mrjibbs2009-04-11

Same boat here, being left handed, I've been cutting nuts, modifying bodies, and other basic luthier work from the get-go. The only thing that might cause problems with that design is that your standard Gretsch has a dovetail joint with a larger neck base, and the Gibby is simply smaller all around. Perhaps you could cut a piece to compensate and glue it to the 'bottom' (by which I mean back) of the neck's heel. Definitely make an instructable for whatever ingenious thing you concoct!

mrjibbs (author)2009-03-26

Hey , the first time you did a refretting job did you have that funny feeling in the pit of your stomach like I did ? Just wondering...... MLM

potatojesus (author)mrjibbs2009-03-26

Yes, I did. But the first guitar I did was already unplayable. It was just collecting dust in my basement. So if I messed it up, it wouldn't have been any worse off. But I did have that sinking feeling simply because this was my first real guitar I owned. It was my baby. Her name is Belladonna. So as you can guess it was like operating on a sick child. After the 'surgery' everything worked out well. The fret work came out good, and the best part, the instrument is playable again! I have my old friend back!

mrjibbs (author)2009-03-25

sweet Instructable many folks use jewelers or similar type files for fret dressing. Also, a draftsmans erasing shield or similar piece of thin sheet metal with a fret sized slot will allow dressing re-dressing minus the oops factor, longer slots can be bent around edge of fretboard to protect when endfiling and shaping. Being the worry wart I am , I made a wood press which matched my fretboard radius to press in my fret wire. And on an opposite note, I think the divots add character and notice fender and gibson charge extra for that nowadays. LOL Refretting yourself makes the difference between a cost effective instrument, and an unplayable museum piece....... MLM

potatojesus (author)mrjibbs2009-03-25

Yes, I totally agree about the instrument v. museum piece. I am more concerned about the sounds that my guitar makes than the 'visual ooh, aah' factor. That said, reducing minor mistakes are still a good thing. Thanks for your comments.

Jonny Katana (author)2009-02-08

Very nicely done Instructable, I'll have to use this a few years down the road when the buzzes start to appear. It might not be a bad idea to use one or two layers of masking tape on the binding when grinding the fret ends flush. As aggressive as the cutoff wheel is, it might still scratch the binding, but at least it would give you a little warning.

potatojesus (author)Jonny Katana2009-02-08

Fantastic Idea. Thanks. I have another guitar I'm about to start his week. I will try the masking tape.

Jonny Katana (author)potatojesus2009-02-09

Awesome, man. Let me know if it helps.

potatojesus (author)Jonny Katana2009-02-18

I tied the tape. I used Gaffer's tape which is a thick, low tack, cloth tape. It seemed to get in the way more than it helped. I used this thicker tape for more protection. As I was grinding the frets flush to the binding, the tape would just get gummed up. Next time I do this, I will try a masking tape or painters tape because I think your suggestion could be a big help.

littletom34 (author)2009-02-07

Great 'ible! For filling the gouge holes, you might try a mixture of the rosewood sawdust and a white wood glue for a better color match. I've used this trick on a couple of woodworking projects to fill in small holes. Just mix the sawdust with the glue to make a paste, moosh it into the hole, let it dry and sand it smooth.

tok2 (author)littletom342009-02-08

That one is a tricky one to do if you get the mixture wrong; too much glue and it'll become more pale (taken in effect that it stays white) or if you put too much wooddust it'll become too thick a paste, plus it might not adhere well to the throat of the guitar. It's trial and error the first four times :) But the super glue's blacking on the guitar makes it look more vintage too which sometimes fits better to the specific geddar (strung instrument)

littletom34 (author)tok22009-02-09

White wood glue doesn't stay white, it dries clear. But your other points are well taken.

tok2 (author)littletom342009-02-10

purely depends on the manufacturer and the use of the glue (sorry but i want to make my comment clear) the more hardener there is in wood glue the whiter it gets (if not something else yadda yadda) we have white glue at work that stays white :) casco nobel 3333 for instance is something more in the manner of what you're talking about casco nobel 3373 is and stays yellow casco nobel 3305 is a more elastic white glue to use in dry rooms

PuddleOfMudd25 (author)2009-02-08

"Put on eye protection!"

Yep, take it from me, that stuff BURNS like HELL. I got it in my eye twice, both times just trying to open it. Luckily I wear glasses.

gmoon (author)2009-02-06

You did a good job. I'm a bit of amateur luthier myself. I have a '64 Framus archtop I'm restoring. It has some fingerboard divots also. There's a short article on that uses the same technique to fill them. But apparently they don't really effect playing, so now the plan is to just leave 'em be...

uguy (author)2009-02-05

Most excellent ible! Well Done. Thanks for sharing. I envy your skills and abilities.

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